Peacemaker Training at Shatsk, Russia.
Next Wednesday morning, March 4, my wife Jeannie and I will begin our fifth mission trip to Ryazan, Russia. A question that may come to the mind of many is, “Why Russia? Of all the places to do missions, and of all the opportunities available, why are you partnering with Baptist congregations in the Russian oblast of Ryazan?
The first reason is God’s calling. Ten years ago, God began working in my heart and mind as a pastor to get serious about going beyond the four walls of my church to do ministry. The Acts 1:8 model was impressed upon me: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Part of that response to God’s call to missions was a first-time trip to Ryazan, Russia. Having been raised in the Cold War, my heart was burdened to reach these people that long been perceived as enemies to my country. After arriving there and working alongside brothers and sisters in Christ, I was inspired by how they can do so much for Christ with so little resources. I was also convicted about how I do so little with so many resources. Russia, for me, is my response to “the ends of the earth.” My wife Jeannie has also been with me on every trip so far, and she shares that calling.
The second reason is that this opportunity in Russia is a partnership. It is a two-way activity, in which West Virginia Baptists help congregations in Ryazan, and they help and inspire us. The goal of the Russian Mission Partnership is to strengthen and to equip Russian believers through evangelistic outreach and training, work projects to improve their facilities, and economic development to enable them to support themselves in a greater way. Perhaps the most lasting achievement of the partnership however, is the relationships that are established. Despite the differences of culture, language and governments, we get to know one another well, we pray for one another regularly, and we share one another’s joys and sorrows deeply.
After being involved in the Russia Mission Partnership Team for several years, I recently was asked to be the group’s leader. I’ll be making the trip to Ryazan from March 4-14 in that capacity. Jeannie and I will meet with Ryazan Baptist pastors and their wives, encourage the congregations in their outreach efforts, and assist with the economic development fund. I’ll also look for new ways in which God may be moving among our Russian brothers and sisters, new opportunities for ministry together.
Would you like to explore how God may be leading you and/or your church to be a part of the WVBC/Russia Mission Partnership team? You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via my church office phone of (304)755-2224.
– David Bess